Democratic candidates seeking to fill Rep. Phil Barnhart’s House seat in the Oregon Legislature kicked off their campaigns this month. So far two Democrats and one Republican have filed to run, according to the Oregon Secretary of State’s website. While the Dems share some priorities, the current Republican candidate holds some wildly different views.
Deadline to file for the May 15 primary is March 6.
Democrat Marty Wilde, who kicked off his bid Feb. 3, says he’s knocked on 1,200 doors on his own — and 1,500 total, including visits by volunteers canvassing for him. Wilde and Democratic primary opponent Kimberley Koops, who kicks off her campaign this weekend, share several campaign priorities.
“Education funding is number one priority,” Wilde says, and that includes both K-12 and higher education. Some college grads, Wilde says, finish with so much debt that they can’t go into public service positions.
Koops says her goal is increased education funding as well, across the board from K-12 to graduate degrees.
She says another priority is to increase access to health care. A native Oregonian who grew up in rural areas, she says, “My entire life before college, I never lived in a town with a doctor.”
As a sexual assault survivor, Koops says she is passionate about compassionate health care services for survivors across the state. She says that even in Lane County, those who have been sexually assaulted sometimes have to wait 12 hours for a nurse to administer a rape kit.
Wilde says eventually he’d like to see single-payer health insurance. A Bronze Star veteran, Wilde points out that the military not only has single-payer, it is also single provider, via the VA, and is a progressive employer that subsidizes child care and provides affordable housing.
When it comes to guns, especially in light of the Feb. 14 mass shooting in Parkland, Florida, Wilde says, “The military would never dream of letting me take an assault rifle home.”
Wilde says, “I strongly support strengthening gun safety, starting with the things we all agree on — safe storage, a robust background check system accessible by both law enforcement and, ideally, private individuals, and mandatory universal background checks before the transfer of any firearm.”
Koops says, “We need to do more around gun safety.” And one thing she’d like to change if elected to the Oregon Legislature is making sure sexual assault survivors are safer. She says that currently, when there is a protective order filed against an individual, that person isn’t supposed to have firearms, “but that’s not enforced.”
Republican candidate Joshua Powell didn’t respond to Eugene Weekly’s interview request with a phone call and instead referred questions to a survey that will be posted on the Oregon Abigail Adams website. OAA is affiliated with the Oregon Liberty Coalition, which has a goal of nurturing “communication and collaboration among patriot and freedom supporting groups.”
According to his answers, Powell does not support more gun laws or gun registration, is pro single-payer health care but also supports a market-based health care system with health savings accounts. He doesn’t believe in global warming but does believe that geo-engineering to control the weather (a theory commonly associated with chemtrails) is “killing ecosystems and forests.”
Wilde points out that some of Powell’s Tweets and posts on his classyethics.com website appear misogynistic and anti-Semitic. Powell periodically employs the ((( ))) echo symbol of triple parentheses that is used on Twitter by anti-Semites to call out those of Jewish heritage, including, oddly, EW, and has website posts headlined “How the left justifies Black on White Crime” and “The War Against Western Men.”
Wilde says, “The president’s behavior has coarsened the dialogue and let people like this come forward.” And of Powell’s candidacy he adds, “I hope there is no taste for his politics.”
Koops says she took at look at Powell’s Twitter — “We don’t have much in common” — and she calls for more women and young people in the Legislature.
When asked if he is a white nationalist or if he has posted anti-Semitic materials, Powell responded via email, saying he is not anti-Semitic, but “anti-corruption.” And, “in order to get rid of corruption, one must remove their prejudices and apply the laws already on the books.”
As to white nationalism, he writes (with capital letters in the original): “It’s not about white supremacy, I don’t support that and I believe that is used to demonize those who simply want to PRESERVE their heritage.”
Powell adds that, in Oregon, “We have several generations of pioneers who were ultimately AGAINST Slavery and PRO preservation. As it clearly is written in the Oregon Constitution.”
Kimberly Koops kicks off her campaign 12 to 3 pm Saturday, Feb. 24, at Agate Alley Bistro. Her website is kimberlyfororegon.com. Marty Wilde’s campaign is underway and can be found at wildefororegon.com. Joshua Powell is on Twitter at twitter.com/avatarjoshua and his website is classyethics.com.